MILLS RIVER - A six-day manhunt that forced closures along a swath of Pisgah National Forest and involved multiple law enforcement agencies ended Thursday after a police chase covering two counties.
But a Mills River man law enforcement officials say was kidnapped by Philip Michael Stroupe II, 38, of Waynesville, remains missing despite Stroupe’s capture.
Authorities apprehended Stroupe in McDowell County after an officer in Yancey County spotted him in a silver Honda Ridgeline owned by the missing man, Thomas A. Bryson, 68, of Mills River, McDowell Sheriff Dudley Greene said.
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Bryson was last seen wearing a dark-colored plaid shirt, brown cargo shorts and sneakers. He is described as being 5 feet 9 inches tall, 175 pounds with a gray mustache and hair.
“We are putting all our resources into finding where Mr. Bryson is,” Henderson County Sheriff Charles McDonald said.
A large search operation was underway, led by the Mills River Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services. Police said they were searching roads where Stroupe is believed to have traveled and also were conducting searches along waterways using kayaks and inflatable boat patrols.
Police confirmed Bryson was carrying a cell phone, but they believe based on Stroupe’s history that it may have been turned off. They declined to say whether the phone was recovered with Bryson’s truck.
Authorities believe Bryson was kidnapped between 8:30 and 8:40 a.m. as he was going to pick up a family member close by. McDonald said in an 11 a.m. news conference at Mills River United Methodist Church, where Bryson attended, that Stroupe is believed to have taken Bryson onto N.C. 280 and then onto the Blue Ridge Parkway before he turned onto N.C. 80.
The chase leading to Stroupe's arrest covered parts of N.C. 80 and continued onto U.S. 70 West in Marion, where he was stopped with road spikes. He was captured on foot after fleeing through a tomato field around 1:30 a.m. Greene said in morning meeting with reporters.